The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Iraq: a little antidote to US propaganda

Dear List,

I came across a website recently with the title:
"don't let your mind become an occupied territory".
It was about Iraq.

Some US Media and the public insist that they
have been "misled into this war". And now that
the damage is done, some people still say they
are unable to see the situation clearly, given
the "barrage of propaganda in the US".

To rid themselves of guilt feelings perhaps, quite
a few Americans have suggested that Iraqis read
the Declaration of Independence in order to cope
with the brutalities of occupation. Others have
recommended the works of Thomas Paine. As admirable
as these suggestions are, they may offer cold
comfort to occupied, harrassed, starving, unemployed,
electricity-deprived, and homeless Iraqis.

As a little antidote to occupier-propaganda, here
are some reminder of things past - mainly from
the perspective of the Christian church in Iraq.
It may help the beleaguered US citizens not to be
further "misled".

[from the Episcopal News Service, January 29, 2003]

In January 2003, Gabriel Kassab, the Chaldean-Catholic
Archbishop of Basrah was in Geneva to urge for an
end to the sanctions on Iraq and for the prevention
of a new war.

At a news conference at the offices of the World
Council of Churches, reporters asked if Christians
in Iraq were afraid of being targeted by Muslims if
war breaks out (the official USUK line). "All of us
are afraid, Msgr Kassab said. "Christians are Iraqis
just like Shi'ite Muslims, like Sunni Muslims. We
are afraid because we are Iraqi, and Iraq is targeted
by this war. Christians are part of the Iraqi

Msgr Kassab explained that the communities lived in
harmony. There were no tensions between Christians
and Muslims. A month ago, he pointed out, local
Muslim religious leaders attended the inauguration
of the Catholic cathedral.

You may remember that _compliance_ was one of
Washington's favourite line in justifying bombings
and the sanctions: Iraq alleged didn't comply with
the numerous resolutions or the inspections. Or
the compliance was deemed unsatisfactory, as in
1998. And media/public, seemingly bereft of
independent thought, willingly swallowed that
line - along with the WMD-line.

Now, in January 2003, reporters in Geneva asked
Msgr Kassab if the churches in Iraq were encouraging
the Iraqi government's compliance with UN resolutions
on arms inspections to avoid war. The Archbishop
said: "Anything that is conducive to peace and
serves the common good of society, we as a church
are in favor of. But the government of Iraq itself
has made it clear that it is willing to cooperate
with UN resolutions."

Msgr Kassab also told reporters that the Gulf war
"went on from 1991 to this day. Every day American
and British aircraft fly over our heads and they
often bomb us and kill our people. This is true
more particularly during the past two months."

[The Tablet, April 5, 2003]

(The "Tablet" is a Catholic weekly. And the Vatican,
you may remember, roundly condemned this war -
pointing out that a pre-emptive strike was both
unethical and illegal.)

"Baghdads bishops plead for atrocious bombing to
stop", reads a headline in the Tablet, April 5.

Catholic and Orthodox bishops issued this plea
in the second week of the USUK invasion, as the
situation in Baghdad was worsening every day
because of the bombing.

"United with our Muslim brothers, we ask everyone
to issue an urgent appeal for a ceasefire", Shlemon
Warduni, a Chaldean Catholic bishop said. The bombing
does not stop; it is increasingly atrocious and
terrifying, he told Radio Vatican.

Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman told the Rome-based
Misna missionary agency that the missile strike on
a Baghdad market earlier in the week had caused
widespread dismay.

No way, said Colin Powell. He told an Arab TV
station that a ceasefire would only encourage
President Hussein into thinking he could avoid
being toppled. (Wasn't that supposed to be about
'disarming' - ie, WMDs?)

No way, said Rumsfeld also. He was told that some
countries might ask the UN to halt the slaughter.
No matter what they might propose, there isn't going
to be a ceasefire, he said. Motto: "stuff happens".

["Return to Basra", end of April - in "Ossietzky"]

An Austrian oncologist, Dr. Hobiger, returns to
Basra after the war is over. She finds the sight
of all the new ruins very upsetting: Basra, already
devastated by previous bombings, looks worse still.

There is graffiti on the walls of houses asking
Americans and the British to "leave our country".

At the Mother-and-Child Hospital Ibn Ghazwan, her
Iraqi colleagues tell her how they tried to protect
the hospital after the war broke out. Some of the
doctors stayed day and night after the looting
began when the British took Basra. They then went
to the British headquarters at the Hotel Shatt-el-Arab
and asked for protection for the hospital - for the
sake of one hundred critically ill children. The
Iraqi doctors got the same answer from the British
occupiers as the Baghdadis got from the Americans:
"We are here to fight, not to protect. This is not
our task."

The stock rooms for food and medical supplies were
looted at the beginning. Now there is a shortage
of drugs. Only critical cases can be admitted,
others are treated as outpatients. Ninety percent
of all child-patients are suffering from diarrhoea.

There are cases of cholera and typhoid in Basra,
notes Dr. Hobiger. And the water supply is dismal.
In desperation, people bore into water pipes to
get water. Others, desperate for a few Dinars,
take copper pipes to sell. But the British refuse
to protect the 15 pumping stations. Helpers from
the IRC are mending the pipes daily. One IRC man
said this was a breach of the Geneva Convention:
"The British are responsible for the situation."

Temperatures are rising and hundreds, possibly
thousands, of infants will die dies summer of
from diarrhoea and dehydration. These children
will be victims of war, but their names won't
get into the statistics.

Dr. Hobiger also met with Archbishop Gabriel
Kassab. He told her a story she found almost
incredible, she writes, but other people in Basra
confirmed it: On one occasion, the British threw
food packages into the crowd from a lorry. This
went on while journalists were filming. As soon
as the filming was finished, the food distribution
stopped, and the lorry was closed up again.

Archbishop Kassab himself tried to share food with
the poor. But at this point (April) he had nothing
left, and for the poor there was only starvation.

[Western Catholic Reporter, July 8, 2003]

"There is no security in Iraq", Baghdad Chaldean
Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni told Vatican Radio.

"The people of Iraq are living in great difficulty,"
he said. "In the absence of an effective government
we are falling into chaos."

Bishop Warduni asked international leaders for
cooperation in the effort "to make Iraq free and
democratic, without any occupation." And "for the
sake of the young people and children, we want a
bit of freedom."

And he stressed that the country cannot regain a
sense of normalcy until there is "a provisional
government - or at least a system of law."

Elga Sutter

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]